Summer 2021 ENews

Challenge to Conowingo Dam Federal License Filed

Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, and Sassafras Riverkeeper, represented by Earthjustice and joined by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, filed a legal challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) relicensing of the Conowingo Dam. The filing seeks to reverse FERC’s decision to grant a license to Exelon Generation, LLC, which will allow the power company to operate the Conowingo Dam for another 50 years without ever taking the cleanup steps necessary to restore the health of the Lower Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay.

“The Conowingo Dam is the single largest threat to the success of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “FERC issued Exelon a new 50-year license to operate the Conowingo Dam, which includes grossly insufficient provisions that require no specific nitrogen and phosphorus reductions, no significant restoration of mussels, shad, and other aquatic species, and absolutely no plan to address the 200 million tons of sediment stored behind the dam. We are going to court to overturn this license and demand protection for our water quality and communities in the Chesapeake Bay region.”

Our work to get a fair deal on the dam cleanup and mitigation of damage it has caused will continue for several more years. We ask that you consider a donation to support this work. As Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Ted Evgeniadis said, we are all in and committed to doing the hard work. But we need your help in raising awareness and pushing for a fair deal


Lawsuit Filed to Protect the Endangered Giant Hellbender Salamander

We filed a lawsuit on July 1 that challenges a decision made by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under the last administration to deny Endangered Species Act protection to giant eastern hellbenders.

“The hellbender is an ancient species that deserves better protections,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “The hellbender reminds us that we all live downstream. As the upstream tributaries are disturbed and polluted, the hellbender disappears. And that same pollution flows downstream to our populated areas, threatening the use and enjoyment of our rivers. We need to pay attention to what happens to the hellbender.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Waterkeeper Alliance, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper and Waterkeepers Chesapeake.


Support Waterkeepers’ Bay Paddle Team!

A team of Waterkeepers from across the region will be participating in the 215 mile, 8 day Bay Paddle. We are paddling for the health and restoration of our local rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Please consider a donation to support our team! The Bay Paddle is helping the Oyster Recovery Partnership plant more oysters and supporting Chesapeake Conservancy efforts to designate the Bay area as a National Park. Our team goal is $4000. Donations above that will support our Waterkeepers.

Get Out on the Water with Your Local Waterkeeper!

Fishing, paddling, river clean ups, tree plantings, kid programs — our Waterkeepers have something for everyone! After our stressful 2020, it’s a great time to get out to enjoy and protect our local waterways. Check out our website calendar — it’s a one-stop source for getting involved with our Waterkeepers! Be sure to post photos and tag us on social media!

Check Out Our Events


Sunday, July 18th join Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Patuxent Riverkeeper for our “No Whining, Only Wine-ing 5k/10k” charity race with Bishop’s Events at Running Hare Vineyard in Prince Frederick, Maryland. Family and friends can participate in this special event. Register today and we hope to see you July 18th!


Saturday, October 2nd join Waterkeepers Chesapeake at the Surf, Blues and BBQ benefit concert with Surf Jaguars and the Alpha Dogs Blues Band at the historic Perrywood Manor in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. This concert hosted by DMVArts Network will be in person and live streamed. Get your tickets today!


SAVE THE DATE! Our annual awards event In Defense of Water will be Wednesday, October 6th from 6:30pm – 8:30pm! It will be an in person and live streamed event. Stay tuned for details!


Thank You to Our Interns!

Nicole Oveisi, a recent George Washington University graduate, has been helping our Fair Farms Campaign since December 2019. You may have read her blogs highlighting Fair Farms partners and issues. Casey Willson began helping with our Clear Choices Clean Water campaign in the summer of 2020 after graduating for the University of Dayton. She is now supporting our Clean Water Act 50th Anniversary campaign.

This summer, we are grateful to have two Legal Interns assisting in research and supporting our Waterkeepers. Ashleigh Pagano comes to us from University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and Eleanor Maloney is at The George Washington Law School.


Waterkeepers Chesapeake in the News

Mapping environmental justice just a few clicks away, Bay Journal, Jeremy Cox, April 14, 2021

The Restoration of the Bay Starts with Local Streams & Communities, Betsy Nicholas, WKC Blog, June 10, 2021

Opinion: Legislature Must Act to Save the Bay in Light of Conowingo Dam Decision, Morgan Johnson in Maryland Matters, June 10, 2021

Environmentalists take their fight against Conowingo Dam license to federal court, Christine Condon, Baltimore Sun, June 21, 2021

Opinion: Exelon’s Claims About Conowingo Dam Don’t Add Up, Jeff Horstman in Maryland Matters, June 28, 2021


Support Us While You Shop!

Amabile Designs is using their design gifts to support us! Use code CHESAPEAKE for 15% off your purchase and Waterkeepers Chesapeake will receive 10% of the sale. The code is per order, unlimited uses, and never expires. SHOP TODAY!

Designate Waterkeepers Chesapeake as your Amazon Smile Charity and your shopping dollars will help support our work!

You Can Make a Difference!

Take a Clear Choices Clean Water pledge to adopt water-friendly practices in your daily life like picking up pet waste, reducing lawn fertilizer, planting native plants, and more! Your actions can protect clean water! YOU can make a difference!

We have made it easier to find and report pollution — and to report the fun things you see and do on the river. Working with Chesapeake Commons, we developed the free Water Reporter App so you can send reports directly to your local Waterkeeper! Download it today!

Take Swim Guide with you – wherever you go! The free Swim Guide app makes it easy to know the water quality at your beach. Several of our Waterkeepers post water quality monitoring results every week — check it out before you head to your favorite river, bay or beach!

Follow us on social media!



Waterkeepers Chesapeake fights for clean water and a healthy environment by supporting Waterkeepers throughout the Chesapeake and coastal regions as they protect their communities, rivers, and streams from pollution.

For info: or email

©Copyright 2021 WATERKEEPERS® Chesapeake